Brembo turns 60 years old this year. What’s interesting is the brake company’s own past (and existence as we know it) is kind of a happy accident. That is, it came out of a literal road accident.
The company was founded in 1961 near Bergamo, Italy, and had been around just three years as a machine shop when another famous Italian company, Alfa Romeo, needed some help after a truck carrying its brake discs wrecked, as Brembo describes:
It was a fortuitous accident in 1964 that changed Brembo’s future: a truck on its way to Italy with a load of brake discs for Alfa Romeo overturned. Fearing that the discs had been damaged in the accident, Alfa Romeo hired Brembo to check the measurements and repair any damaged discs. While working on those discs, the people at Brembo began to wonder if these components were really as sophisticated as Alfa Romeo had described them – parts so delicate that they had to be imported from England – and speculated that perhaps they could offer to manufacture them in Italy, naturally at more competitive prices.
After the accident, and at the behest of Alfa, Brembo inspected the brake discs and claimed these so-called “sophisticated” brake discs that Alfa Romeo was importing all the way from the UK didn’t seem beyond the ability of Brembo’s machine shop to manufacture. One of its founders, Emilio Bombassei, pitched it to the Italian carmaker.
Alfa Romeo thought it could lower its cost per part, according to F1Geeks, so it took the machine shop up on its offer. The young company got to work making the first Italian disc brakes, and would go on to supply brakes for bike maker Moto Guzzi, too.
Ten years later, in 1971, the company came to be known as Freni Brembo, or Brembo Brakes, per F1Geeks. It was named after both of its c0-founders, Italo Breda and Emilio Bombassei. Brembo then became the supplier for Ferrari’s brakes four years later, in 1975, and the rest is history. The company has since supplied brakes — some with its famous red calipers — for machines both on and off the track.